How to hack a Regency dress

It is universally acknowledged, that a woman going to a Jane Austen-themed Dinner & Dance must be in want of a dress.  A Regency-era dress, that is.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a Regency-styled dress off  the rack in Singapore? You’d think it’s easy since it’s basically a long dress with an empire waist. Empire waists are cool, ok!

DIY Regency dress
“Talk to the hand, honey, because you will never find this off the rack.”

But no.

Last year, I was desperately looking for one for the Jane Austen Circle Singapore Dinner & Dance. I looked everywhere and the only thing similar to an empire-waist dress was a thin nightgown (scandalous!)  from Marks & Spencer.

In the end, I had to hack a Regency dress out of a Muslimah dress. My friend Debbie found a reasonably-priced store and bought a black dress for me, while she bought a brown dress.

muslimah dress
The original dress is similar to this but with narrower sleeves.

We chose a Muslimah dress because of its length. Our version has a high waist and a surprisingly not-so-modest neckline. I won’t complain about that.

Hacking the Regency dress

Of course, a black dress is worn during that period is mostly for mourning. Still, I made the most of it and pretended that I was a fashion-forward Regency lady instead. Or a wealthy young widow whose husband passed away, leaving me with a huge fortune.

regency gown pinterest
Black Regency dress.

I looked online for inspiration to turn my all-black dress into something half decent. All the ladies don’t look like they’re in mourning. That’s good.

For my dress, I sewed a ribbon around the neckline to give it a dash of colour. I also half-sewed a ribbon around the waist but I later took this out because it was a bit awkward.

Regency gown making
Sewing the ribbon around the neckline.

Here’s how the whole dress looks.

regency gown

I’ll be wearing this dress to the Read Aloud Sg Book Club’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) meetup. I also made an apron out of white cloth, hoping I look more like Elizabeth Bennet from the PPZ movie than a random widow in the show.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Do sign up for the event if you’re around. Here’s your invite.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies read aloud

If you’re curious, here’s one of the dances they taught at the Jane Austen Circle Dinner & Dance.

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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